The lynx that took a three-day tour through Islip after six shark attacks in three weeks off Long Island sparked widespread anxiety — but the stories are not the region’s first rodeo with unusual animal news.
Here’s a refresher of some of LI’s most recent unusual local encounters with the animal kingdom.
This spring, reports that a hawk has been attacking people in Northport — reportedly as many as 17 people over the past two years — requiring some to seek medical attention, but the bird returned after it was captured and relocated, WNBC reported.
In February, a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) team assisted in the removal and release of a deer that entered and then became trapped in a Stony Brook University classroom.
Barney The Bull
In September 2021, Barney, the 1,500-pound bull who had received a great deal of attention after he escaped captivity in Mastic three months prior, was safely captured by Mike Stura of Skylands Animal Sanctuary & Rescue at the former duck farm located on Barnes Road in Moriches.
In July 2021, a pair of black swans native to Australia were spotted in the Town of Southold, according to the DEC. Local animal groups caught the swans and had them taken to an animal sanctuary. The story was largely overshadowed by Barney.
In July 2019, the Suffolk County SPCA helped track and capture a 9-foot-long anaconda that escaped a home in Hampton Bays and was later found hiding in the dashboard of a van.
In October 2019, deer was caught on a surveillance camera crashing through the front display window of a Lake Ronkonkoma hair salon and running through the store before fleeing — terrifying customers and hairdressers in the process.
In June 2018, burglars stole a one-winged bald eagle named Sammy from the Quogue Wildlife Refuge. The theft remains unsolved, despite a $20,000 reward.
More Big Cats
The lynx wasn’t the first big cat found on LI. In October 2018, a caracal — a wild cat indigenous to Africa and Asia — was found dead in Sag Harbor, Dan’s Papers reported.
In September 2018, a Levittown reptile store was cited for possessing several dangerous reptiles, including a 6-foot-long Asian Monitor Lizard. A search at the owners’ home discovered a Gila Monster, one alligator, two Dwarf Caimans, and five Mexican Beaded lizards, according to the DEC.
A Deer Situation
This one didn’t actually make news, but when the DEC was asked for recent local animal cases of note, the agency shared this shocker. In October 2016, a deer was discovered tied to a steed rod with a collar around its neck being kept as a pet at a home in East Hampton. DEC Law Enforcement transferred the deer to a local sanctuary and charged the individual with illegal possession of wildlife, the agency said.
LI has no shortage of alligator cases. In January 2019, a one-foot American alligator was seized in the basement of a Hauppauge home. In July of that year. a small, eight-inch alligator was discovered by a family swimming in a backyard pool in Bayport. And in December 2017, a 4-foot-long alligator was seized at a residential property in Ronkonkoma and taken to a licensed facility. But the most ridiculous of all was 20 baby alligators being found in a year on LI between 2012 and 2013.
In July 2015, authorities responded to a report of a 3-foot-long crocodile found in a cardboard box in a Medford parking lot, Suffolk police and the Suffolk SCPA said.
In August 2015, a 25-pound Alligator Snapping Turtle, a reptile named for its powerful jaws and not indigenous to Long Island, was found near downtown Smithtown, Suffolk County authorities said.
In May 2005, the Suffolk County SCPA responded to reports of two leopards being kept as pets in a Dix Hills home.
In April 2002, a Medford man was reportedly cited for keeping a 3-month-old, 12-pound black bear cub as a pet in his home
-With Oliver Peterson